Real Madrid missed the chance to move up a level at the top of La Liga as they were forced to come from 2-0 to grab a point away against Osasuna.
The hosts took the lead in the 16th minute when Oriol Riera floated into the box unmarked to head past Diego Lopez, earmarking why Pamplona has become known as such a difficult place to visit.
And, the Osasuna forward was at it again 20 minutes later—Lopez’s smart save fell kindly to Riera, and he duly headed home to double his side’s lead.
There was still time for more action in the first half.
Sergio Ramos saw red for a second yellow card before Isco finished stunningly following good work from Cristiano Ronaldo.
Francisco Silva was then dismissed late on for Osasuna, just as it seemed they would hang on for the three points, allowing Isco to tee up Pepe for a late equaliser.
Here are the talking points to come from a fascinating match.
Following the 2-2 draw on Saturday afternoon, Real Madrid have only won once in their last six trips to Pamplona.
It’s not just poor results they pick up when they head north either, it’s also red cards. This time around, it was Sergio Ramos, but last season, Kaka picked up his only red card of his Real Madrid career in Pamplona.
Considering they were 2-0 down, though, perhaps Ancelotti will have to be quietly satisfied with a point.
After all, Barcelona only left with a point earlier this season, too.
Teams who've most often caused Madrid & Barcelona to drop points away since 2008-09: Osasuna [8 times], Valencia , Athletic .— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) Dec. 14, 2013
If a fairly strong looking Real Madrid found themselves 2-0 down in Pamplona, how will a completely different looking Los Blancos back line fare against Valencia next weekend?
Pepe picked up his fifth booking of the season, which lead to a one-game ban, and Sergio Ramos was sent off for two yellow cards. Both defenders, pending appeals, will be unavailable for selection against Los Che.
Meanwhile, Raphael Varane remains sidelined through injury—could Ancelotti be tempted to risk him for a game ahead of the winter break?
He’d presumably partner Nacho Fernandez if so.
In a league where eight points separate the bottom 10, goals are such an important currency.
Ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Real Madrid, there wasn’t a single side in La Liga who had scored less than Osasuna.
They do seem to have a goal scorer, though.
Oriol Riera’s brace took him to seven for the season—over 50 percent of the Navarre-based club’s goals. They’ll become increasingly more valuable as things tighten up at the bottom.
On a side note, as a Catalan, Riera will have enjoyed his double on Saturday afternoon.
With less than an hour gone, Gareth Bale’s number was up. Angel di Maria trotted on to take his place and the Welshman headed to the dugout with a pat on the back from Carlo Ancelotti.
It concluded a difficult afternoon for Bale, which saw him fail to make an impact as Madrid slipped behind in Pamplona.
He’s not Superman and can’t be expected to perform every match, but it is a warning that the margin for error at a club like Real Madrid is so small.
Despite that, if he had stayed on, there is always the chance that that left foot will produce something special.
Forget the performance and result for a second.
With the exception of Sami Khedira, who will remain sidelined for the next few months, it seems as if Carlo Ancelotti is at last dropping us some hints on what he feels is his best Real Madrid side.
Having previously favoured a midfield three, he now seems to have refocused on a 4-2-3-1 since the injury to Khedira. It incorporates Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric and Isco in midfield—Asier Illarramendi is the man to miss out.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema are firmly established as the Italian’s preferred attackers; although, there could still be questions raised defensively.
Alvaro Arbeloa and Dani Carvajal—who started in Pamplona—continue to rotate on the right, and Raphael Varane’s return to the side in the new year will provide competition centrally for Sergio Ramos and Pepe.
Already at the top of the list, Sergio Ramos cemented his place as the Real Madrid player with the most red cards in the club’s history.
He saw red for two yellow cards—he could perhaps argue the first was a tad harsh—against Osasuna to take him to 18 dismissals in total for the club. Fernando Hierro (12) and Guti (10) are the former Sevilla defender’s closest challengers.
It works out as a dismissal every 21 matches for Los Blancos while, interestingly, he’s yet to see red in 115 caps for Spain.